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Thread: [Locations and Layouts] - Tips For Your Game World

  1. #1
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    [Locations and Layouts] - Tips For Your Game World

    This guide is primarily written for game hosts (as in, the creator of a game). Though it may also prove useful to players, it is written with the intention of being read by someone with full control of the game who would like tips on “building” their Game World section in a better way and general ideas of how one might use the section. It also offers information on keys.

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    Overview and Creating Locations
    This is where the roleplaying takes place. The locations listings can essentially be used however you like. This post will cover the basics of the page and creating a location. For more information on the game world tab and how it’s used within games, there is a section within the Anatomy of a Roleplay guide that covers the tab.

    Up to 15 locations and/their sub-locations can fit on a page before you have to visit the next page to view the other locations.

    When you created your game, you were asked to create an “Initial Place”. When you visit your game world, you will see the name of the location you put there, but with no description and no neat thumbnail. Click “Edit” to tweak the information as you see fit. As you will see, you can change the name of the location, change the parent location (in case you want to nest the location somewhere else or split it to its own area), change Player Access to the location, change the thumbnail, and write or edit the brief description of the location.

    The short description section allows only 125 characters. This includes punctuation and spacing! As such, it’s best to give an overall idea of where the location is and what you intend for it to be used for. You’re better off saving a more long-form description for the first post in the location.

    Besides Editing your location, you can also Delete locations. Please use this wisely!!!!! If you delete a “parent” location, it will also delete all sub-locations. (example: If you bulldoze a house, you’re not just getting rid of the house, but also every room inside of it.) You will not be able to change your mind or restore deleted locations if you’re not paying attention - so pay attention! If you want to delete a “parent” location but none of the “child” locations, move the child locations elsewhere so you can delete in peace.

    You may nest locations up to 10 locations deep (that is to say, each location nested into the next - please see the screenshot if you’re having trouble visualizing nesting). However, it doesn’t matter how many specific sub-locations you have in total. (For instance, using the screen grab for an example, you could create six pages of locations as a ‘child’ under any of the forums listed. But you cannot create a 10th sub-location off of the 9th sub-location.) Don’t worry if it seems confusing - most people will never nest this deep and even if they did, the system would let them know it wasn’t possible.

  3. #3
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    Game World Layouts and Styles
    One of the coolest things about the Game World is the freedom of its use. Here are some examples of game world layouts and why a game host may choose to use them. Please understand that these are offered only as ideas and not as examples of the ‘right’ way to use the Game World. You should go with any style that makes best sense to you and your game!

    -> All in One Place (Screenshot example.)
    Your game may have many places the action takes place, but that doesn’t mean that you want to make a location for every stop your characters make! For characters that travel a lot, that may mean making hundreds of locations and sub-locations! Or perhaps you just don’t want to bother making a lot of icons or confusing yourself and/or your players by having multiple locations. Absolutely nothing wrong with that! If you choose this method, it works very much like a regular forum rpg, only with character bios and so forth more conveniently organized.

    -> By Chapter/Chronological Logging (Screenshot example.)
    Maybe you have a set story in place - a sort of overreaching plot arc that you expect to play out. Or perhaps story arcs are more organic and less structured. In either case, you could sort things by “chapter”, making a new chapter and asking the players to start posting there instead when the plot seems to have shifted. To use an example: Perhaps the game’s storyline is a quest. Chapter one may be each character getting to the location and meeting. Chapter two may be about getting the quest and preparing for it. Chapter three is the first stage of the journey and the bad guy’s first attempt to get them to give up the quest. And so on.

    -> “Building In” (Screenshot example.)
    If your story is going to take place in a relatively small area (especially if it involves multiple individuals), you may consider building a “micro-location”, detailing the different areas and nesting locations within one another. For example - if you’re building a house, you may choose to give each character their own bedroom. If you’re building a castle, school or temple, you may do it by wings of the building or departments. A table-top rpg style ‘dungeon’ may start with the outer world, and move inward with each sub-location and making a choice between tunnel A and corridor B as they uncover secret rooms.

    -> “Building Out” (Screenshot example.)
    If your game takes place on a more epic scale, you may be building “out”. Perhaps you create a location based on every discovered major landmark (a new city or forest or ocean, for example). Or by country. Or by planet for the space explorers. Game hosts may either choose to “archive” locations that aren’t being used, or simply only create a new location if it’s meant to be played in for a period of time. (But, hey - with unlimited locations available, maybe you and your group would enjoy building more and more places as a mark of the game’s progress!)

    -> Major Locations (Screenshot example.)
    Maybe your storytelling style is a bit more hodge-podge than any of the above examples. Perhaps your characters have nothing to do with anything else in a city except the magician’s shop. Why build the whole town when you’re only interested in the shop itself? Why build rooms within the shop if you’re never going to have your characters go into the workshop behind the counter, the sleeping quarters above, and the cellar below? Or maybe your characters are often getting into adventures in The Purple Forest, but there’s no point in creating a location for the witch’s hut or the hermit’s cave if you’ll only ever play it once or twice.

  4. #4
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    Keys and Player Access
    Keys are a great way to provide secret (or not so secret) areas able to be accessed by only certain characters or discovered by characters and revealed when it suits the plot. They provide a dimension of game playing that can normally only be handled via secret communication between game host and players in the forms of notes passed around a table, instant messaging services, email, and private messages.

    Something to keep in mind before you play: If you have a staff member in your game, no area is “secret” to them (due to the necessity of moderation duties). This may mean you’ll either have to work things out with the staff member in terms of in-character knowledge versus out-of-character knowledge, ask if you can enlist their help with the game, or wait to create secret locations when the staff member’s character(s) would find them out. This information is provided solely to be open and honest about the abilities of staff, not to make it part of a staff member’s duties to act as co-host for your game. Not all people who game want the responsibility of hosting or co-hosting their own!

    This section assumes you’ve read the “Managing Roleplays” guide’s section on managing keys. The “Anatomy of a Full-Featured RPG”’s section on the Game World may also be useful

    In any case, to refresh, let’s start out with what keys and locked locations are.

    There are three types of locations:
    - Unlocked rooms (anyone can read them and all players in your game can post to them)
    - Visible locked rooms (anyone can see they exist, but only players with a key to the location will know what’s posted in there/can post there themselves)
    - Invisible locked rooms (only the game host and anyone with a key to the room will know it’s there, read what’s posted there, and post there themselves)

    You can set each room’s access virtually independent of any other room in the Game World.

    Here is the same information broken down in a concise example:
    > Forest (unlocked) - all users can see/read, all players can post.
    >> Castle (visible, locked) - all users can see, only key carriers can read/post.
    >>> Treasure Room (invisible, locked) - only key carriers can see/read/post.
    So far so good, right?

    But it gets a little trickier with nested rooms. Nested rooms follow their own keys first (ie: visible locked/invisible locked) and their parent location’s keys second. For example, let’s try out this combination:
    > Castle (visible, locked) - all users can see, only key carriers can read/post.
    >> Magician’s Suite (unlocked) - all users can see, only key carriers for “castle” can read/post - even though the room is unlocked.
    >>> Magician’s Bedroom (unlocked) - all users can see, only key carriers for “castle” can read/post - even though the room is unlocked
    >>> Magician’s Workroom (visible, locked) - all users can see, only key carriers can read/post.
    So, your characters may not be able to get into the castle, but everyone will know that there is a magician’s suite and know it has a bedroom and workroom. If you want the rooms inside a locked location to be a surprise, you may wish to either create them after players have got inside the locked location, or set the interior locations to “invisible, locked” until someone discovers them and reveals the location(s) to the other characters.

    You can always edit the status of your locations! This will not delete keys!

    So, for example, perhaps you set the Magician’s Suite to “invisible, locked”. No one will know it’s there and what rooms it has inside it until the suite is discovered. Perhaps you give the key to the invisible, locked suite to player 1, whose character is a sneaky thief. They may decide to search the room for valuables first before “telling everyone” about it. You may choose to temporarily set the room to “unlocked” and let all players come and go freely. But Player 1 will still have the key, so if you later decide to make the room invisible again and move it around, Player 1 will still know exactly where it is and can access and post to it.

  5. #5
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    General Tips and Advice
    These are suggestions we have to make your game run more smoothly and not overwhelm your players. More tips will be added both as a result of us figuring these things out for ourselves, and suggestions you may make in this thread.

    1) Start small and build up.
    It may be tempting to go on a world-building spree and make a location for every setting you can think your players may be interested in - but it may come off as very intimidating to players not familiar with how to use the site just yet. It’s like converting a hospital into a home you share with a few roommates. At first you’re all excited because you have multiple floors and hundreds of rooms and you can have a special room for every decorating theme or hobby you’ve ever developed a fondness for.... and then you realize it’s just you and a handful of other people running around this huge space and you start getting lost and creeped out. You may go days without interacting with anyone else because you never run into each other!

    You might consider starting with a sort of general location and creating a specific location for any place your players seem to use a lot. This is especially useful the more characters your game has and the more active your game becomes. All the characters may start in the waiting room, but then Mindy and Sally start spending a lot of time chatting in the nurse’s station and Fred, Harold and Marley take to horsing around in the gym, and Yyvonne seems to always be found napping in intake room 40.... well, maybe those are the locations you should ‘build’ first.

    2) Consider what style of Game World layout appeals to you before you start building.
    It never hurts to plan ahead. Especially as it means less time spent moving things around/editing to fit the style you really want. You might consider joining someone else’s rpg and get a feel for how they do things so you’ll know what does and doesn’t work for you.

    3) Think about visual appeal.
    We role-players may be a wordy bunch, but that doesn’t mean that we shun pictures. Most players will draw inspiration from the thumbnails you choose for the Game World. It’s ultimately up to you what you use for the thumbnail, but it’s highly recommended you use something other than the default because it’s boring to look at. Even if you just make a 100x100 pixel black square with the location’s name on it, it’s probably better than the default thumbnail. You may also wish to be careful to use a thumbnail that relates to the location. If your action takes place in a bamboo forest, but your thumbnail shows an oak forest in the fiery colors of autumn, it may confuse your players.

    4) Think about how your world is set up. (Nesting locations; etc.)
    If you create other locations for your game other than just your initial location, you can easily move any location just about wherever you like if you fiddle with it long enough. Moving the places around doesn’t affect how the log is kept, as it’s organized by date and time. It’ll just affect the players’ perception of the general ‘layout’ of your game world.

    For example, The Kingdom of Hartshorne, The Purple Forest, and Hirosburg may all be locations in your game. Keeping them each separate gives the impression that they are unconnected. But if you make The Purple Forest the main location, with The Kingdom of Hartshorne within it, it seems as if the kingdom is only one location within a vast purple forest and Hirosburg is a city apart from either. Nesting the forest inside the kingdom and the city inside the forest makes it seem as if the kingdom is the biggest location, with the forest a part of it and the city a location within the forest. Keep proportions and proximity in mind if you decide to play with nesting locations. Don’t forget to use the description area to clarify these points.

  6. #6
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    As usual, this guide will be revised based on the staff's own personal experiences, observations, and comments/questions/suggestions from the users!

    Please feel free to post any such feedback you like.
    Please do not send this account PMs/etc. It is not monitored daily by staff and does not accept PMs/etc.

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